Remember when you were a little kid and your mama told you that if you were a good person and worked hard, you could achieve anything you set your mind to?
“Work hard enough and follow the golden rule and when you grow up, you’ll be able to shop at Barneys. It’s the American way.” Oh, wait a minute. My mama never said that to me. I said that to my daughter. Or maybe Sarah Jessica Parker said it on “Sex and the City.”
But my mom definitely did not say that. She said something even more unlikely. She said if I worked hard enough and my grades were good enough, I could grow up to be president. And most of my friends were hearing the same thing from their parents. The boys anyway. No one was telling girls they could grow up to be president. Back then only boys could manufacture success out of thin air, girls had to marry it.
But even factoring the girls out of the equation as we did back then (and as many people still do), there were a lot of boys and only one president at a time, so even a child could tell the math did not really add up.
Of course, I know why she told me something that was so clearly not true. I figured that out pretty early on. She wanted me to feel that I was just as good as anybody else. She wanted me to believe that just because I lived in a two-room apartment behind the gas station where my Dad pumped gas for a living, I was just as good as anybody else and that the sky was the limit for me and nothing was out of my reach. Even the highest office in the land.
She wanted me to think that the people who stopped for gas on the way up to their mountain houses in Roaring Gap from their houses in town were no better than me. Just because they had two houses and we only had two rooms or because those boys’ dads would soon be teaching them to play golf at the Roaring Gap Club and my dad had never set foot on those sacred greens without carrying clubs for one of their dads, Mom wanted me to think I could go just as far as any of those boys. Even all the way to the White House.
And as much as my five-year-old self appreciated my mom’s cheerleading on my behalf, I knew in my heart she was exaggerating. Surely, not anybody could be president. That could not possibly be true. For such a sought-after position as leader of the free world, there had to be a long list of requirements and expectations. There had to be standards.
At the very least, one needed to be smart and have good judgment and critical thinking skills and have better than average ability to think things through, be able to speak in complete sentences and formulate a thought that required more than 140 characters to express. But no, as it turns out, none of those things are necessary.
As we are witnessing today, it is clear that not for the first time, Mom was absolutely right. Absolutely anybody can be president. There are no disqualifications. Not sexual assault or childishness or narcissism or sociopathy. Even ridiculous hair and a spray tan are not deal-breakers.
So if a childish, narcissistic sociopath with ridiculous hair and a spray tan can become president, then Mom must have been right. Anybody can grow up to be president.
All you need is a spray tan, a foul mouth and a Twitter account. A heart as dark as midnight probably doesn’t hurt either.
Reach Bill at 336-415-4699.